Wilton planners consider public comments on future planning document
About 40 people attended the Planning & Zoning Commission’s public hearing Thursday evening, July 18, on the updated 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development — Wilton 2029 — and many offered their comments on issues they would like to see changed, expanded or clarified.
Among the items they brought up were:
Energy resiliency and security.
Development in Georgetown.
Affordable housing zones.
Redevelopment of underperforming commercial properties.
The full draft of the plan is available online at wilton2029.com, where visitors may also find written comments that have been sent to the commission. Comments are also available on the town website, wiltonct.org, as is a video of the hearing.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the commission extended the deadline for public comments until noon on Aug. 1, but there will be no further opportunities for in-person public comment. Residents may submit their comments on the website or may deliver their comments to the Planning and Zoning Department in the town hall annex at 238 Danbury Road. Comments received after the deadline will not be considered.
The commission expected to take up discussion of the comments and the best way to proceed in terms of working out what substantive comments need to be added at its regular meeting on July 22, 7:15 p.m., in the town hall annex Room A. A special meeting may be needed in September in order for the commission to have a final draft to be voted on before Nov. 1.
Several people brought up the issue of Cannondale and maintaining its historic nature.
“This is a very sensitive area in its rural nature and in its historic nature and the concern is that the development we’ve seen in the lower part of Danbury Road south of the high school would not be suitable or representative of the nature of Cannondale north of the high school,” Steven Georgio said. Once development occurs, he added, “there’s no going back. It’s done.”
His concerns were echoed later in the hearing by Florence Johnson, who asked if the area from Olmstead Hill Road to Wolfpit Road, that would be open to more dense housing, would include Cannondale. She said she is not in favor of permitting “high-density development that would mar that historic region.”
Commission Chair Scott Lawrence said Cannondale needs to be defined in the future and what intensity of use is appropriate there.
Johnson also encouraged redevelopment of “underperforming properties,” especially in South Wilton into more family-friendly activities like mini-golf or a portable hockey rink, things that would be more attractive than had been done in the past.
Sarah Curtis had many suggestions including simplifying the document into something easier to read and use and also using more definitive language.
“There are too many references to ‘let’s consider,’ ‘let’s talk about,’ ‘let’s try’ — that’s very soft,” she said. “We need hard language — ‘we will detail this,’ ‘we will implement this, ‘we will require this.’”
Both Curtis and Johnson brought up the matter of stormwater, with Curtis urging land-use boards to seek out and use “better data, better science and more papers” on that subject.
Barbara Geddis Wooten raised a number of issues including having a yearly “how’re we doing Ed Koch meeting” to see how well the plan is being implemented.
She also urged that the zoning map be updated to eliminate any discrepancies.
The top priority, which she said in the plan is town hall, should be Wilton Center. She is also opposed to the housing committee proposed in the plan, saying the town has enough government.
She likened Danbury Road to “a scar through our town,” and said most development applications focus on that road while the historic districts are avoided. “I think we need an idea book on Cannondale, Georgetown and Wilton Center … on how you can do wonderful things in a historic district,” she said.
Her comments prompted Johnson to suggest a community focus group on how to bring vitality to the town center, historic districts and flood plain areas.